Mandela Ave structure dismantled as part of ministry campaign

A woman’s business and home located on Mandela Avenue were yesterday demolished by workers from the Ministry of Public Works, which is currently carrying out a campaign to remove all encroachments to the Public Road Reserve.

Denise Hillman, however, said she only received a warning shortly before the dismantling began.

“Only half an hour prior to the demolishing I had a word to mouth warning… I need something to be done about it,” Hillman told Stabroek News.

Hillman made a living selling clothes, non-alcoholic beverages, sweets and genips at the Mandela Avenue location. She said she does not intend on moving, adding “They got to find somewhere for me to go.”

She explained that around 11:30 am, two men appeared in a ministry vehicle and called her. “I thought they needed something to buy so I went…then they ask me if I know I ain’t supposed to be selling here,” the woman said.

Hillman further stated that she was then told that her business would be dismantled. “I ask them who give them permission to do that and they said Minister [Robeson] Benn,” she said.

The woman sad she then immediately left and went to the ministry, where she asked to see Minister Benn but was told that he was unavailable. Upon returning home, she said, the two men had already started dismantling the structure and though she tried talking to them, Hillman added, she was told those were the orders.

Hillman said she did manage to meet with Benn later that afternoon and was told that he had given no such instructions. “He was asking why they using his name… but his last words to me were everybody eventually got to move,” she said.

It was noted that although approximately 13 houses and businesses are located on the block, Hillman was the only one to be targeted.

The mother of two recalled in 2005 she had learnt that her land was being resold and had a terrible “run around” with the Ministry of Housing. Hillman said that matter is presently before the High Court.

The woman said she was being victimised. “I won’t be judgmental but the person who is discriminating [against] me know themselves,” she stated, while adding that this was not the first time.

Last week, the Ministry announced the start of demolition exercises to remove all encroachments to the Public Road Reserve. It said due to the upcoming four-lane expansions, the roads that will be targeted first are the East Coast Demerara, Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue and the East Bank Demerara. According to a notice, the exercise will affect all members of the public who are in violation of the Laws of Guyana.

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